The man who made Thiruvananthapuram slang cool through cinema

G Vivekanandan had stories to tell that the whole of Kerala listened to, screened, and eulogised. Many of his works became movies that remain etched as classics of an era in Malayalam cinema.
G Vivekanandan
G Vivekanandan

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : The Malayalam slang of his characters is markedly Thiruvananthapuram. The setting is rural. The locales are from in and around the capital district. He was Thiruvananthapuram’s own, much like Thakazhi was to Kuttanad.

Yet, G Vivekanandan had stories to tell that the whole of Kerala listened to, screened, and eulogised. Many of his works, such as Kallichellamma, Shasthram Jayichu Manushyan Thottu, Mazhakaaru, Taxi Driver, Ward No: 7, Arikkaari Ammu, Our Yugasandhya, and Visa, became movies that remain etched as classics of an era in Malayalam cinema.

“Such was Vivekanandan’s influence as a writer that I remember waiting eagerly for his novels. Kallichellamma was nothing less than a timeless masterpiece,” says Sreekumaran Thampi, a lyricist and filmmaker who has turned one of Vivekanandan’s works into a film.

It was on January 23, 1999, that the gifted writer passed away. It is also the 100th year of his birth, says G V Sreekumar, his son and a Professor at IIT Bombay.

Commemorating both on Tuesday, Thampi and writers and poets, including Prof. G N Panicker, Ezhumattoor Raja Raja Varma, and M Rajeev Kumar, remembered the veteran’s craft as markedly different from the accepted style, exploring societal norms and seeing the world through the eyes of suppressed women.

He was the author of 55 books, including novels, short stories, and dramas; the wealth of his literary contributions earned him the prestigious Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award in 1986 for his work Sruthibhangam.

Vivekanandan’s film career is most prominent, though his career graph spanned through a stint with All India Radio, then as the director of the Public Relations department, as the first managing director of the Kerala State Film Development Corporation, and the man behind setting up the famous Chithranjali film studio in the capital. The roles he juggled helped him fine-tune his writing, making him a stickler for facts.

“He was accurate in his research. I accompanied him on many travels to locations where he studied the surroundings, the local inhabitants, and the language. He even conducted interviews to gain insight into certain aspects. For his award-winning novel Sruthibhangam, he dedicated almost six months solely to its study,” Sreekumar says.

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